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Charisma Carpenter accuses 'Buffy' creator Joss Whedon of toxic and verbally abusive behavior

Carpenter, who worked with Whedon for seven years, said she felt a responsibility to speak out after actor Ray Fisher made similar accusations.
Image: Joss Whedon at a premiere in Hollywood
Joss Whedon at a premiere in Hollywood on Sept. 22, 2018.Michael Tullberg / Getty Images

Actress Charisma Carpenter accused Joss Whedon, creator of “Buffy the Vampire Slayer,” of being verbally abusive and creating a toxic work environment during her seven years working with the director.

Joining “Justice League” star Ray Fisher in speaking out against Whedon, Carpenter detailed her allegations Wednesday in a statement on social media. She explained that she participated in a WarnerMedia investigation into Whedon, calling the famous director “casually cruel.”

“These memories and more have weighed on my soul like bricks for nearly half of my life,” Carpenter said. “I wish I said something sooner. I wish I had the composure and courage all those years ago. But I muted myself in shame and conditional silence.”

Carpenter, who played Cordelia Chase on “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” and its spinoff “Angel,” said Whedon’s behavior triggered a “chronic physical condition from which I still suffer.” The actress alleged that Whedon made “ongoing” threats to fire her, mocked her for her religious beliefs, and called her fat during her pregnancy.

She also accused Whedon of firing her from “Angel” once she gave birth, an unexpected character departure that fans have speculated about for years. She alleged that Whedon once asked her to set at 1 a.m. when she was six months pregnant, despite her doctor’s recommendation, which triggered false labor pains.

Carpenter said while she is scared to come out against Whedon, she felt an “overwhelming sense of responsibility” to Fisher to speak publicly.

“It is abundantly evident that Joss has persisted in his harmful actions, continuing to create wreckage in his wake,” Carpenter said. “My hope now, by finally coming forward about these experiences, is to create space for the healing of others who I know have experienced similar serialized abuses of power.”

Fisher shared Carpenter’s statement to his own social media, calling the actress “one of the bravest people I know.”

“I am forever grateful for her courage and for her lending her voice to the Justice League investigation,” he wrote. “Read her truth. Share her truth.”

Sarah Michelle Gellar, who played Buffy for seven years, said in a statement posted to Instagram on Wednesday that she stands with "all survivors of abuse" and is proud of them for speaking out.

"While I am proud to have my name associated with Buffy Summers, I don't want to be forever associated with the name Joss Whedon," Gellar wrote.

Michelle Trachtenberg, who joined the show in its fifth season as Buffy's younger sister, posted Gellar's statement to her own Instagram profile to thank the star for her statement.

Trachtenberg captioned the repost, noting she's "brave enough now" at the age of 35 to comment on the issue of Whedon's behavior. She was 15 when she first began her role on the series.

"We know what he did," Trachtenberg said in an Instagram story. "Behind. the. scenes."

Amber Benson, who was on the show for two seasons, tweeted her support for Carpenter as well and said that "Buffy" was a "toxic environment."

"@AllCharisma is speaking truth and I support her 100%," Benson said. "There was a lot of damage done during that time and many of us are still processing it twenty plus years later."

Neither WarnerMedia nor Whedon immediately responded to a request for comment from NBC News Wednesday.

Fisher, who played Cyborg in the 2017 “Justice League” film, accused Whedon of abusive and unprofessional behavior last year on social media. He also said two producers enabled Whedon, who was brought onto the film for reshoots due to a family tragedy that forced original director Zac Snyder to step away from the project.

Fisher told Forbes in an October interview that he would detail his accusations more thoroughly following the conclusion of an investigation by WarnerMedia.

“Race was just one of the issues with the reshoot process,” Fisher said. “There were massive blowups, threats, coercion, taunting, unsafe work conditions, belittling, and gaslighting like you wouldn’t believe.”

Whedon's representatives denied the single accusation made by Fisher that he digitally altered the skin tone of an “actor of color,” according to The Independent. Whedon has not given a statement or spoken publicly regarding the accusations of an abusive work environment.

Last month, Fisher said he had been “removed” from the studio’s upcoming film, “The Flash,” because the DC Films president Walter Hamada interfered with the investigation into his claims.

“No one, in any profession, should have to argue with their employer for claims of abuse, racism, and discrimination to be taken up the proper chain of command,” Fisher said in January. “And no one, in any position of leadership, should attempt to dissuade those wishing to report such claims from doing so.”

WarnerMedia denied Fisher’s characterization of his departure from “The Flash” in a statement to Variety. The company also denied there was any impediment to the “Justice League” investigation, which it said concluded in December.

The company has not detailed the results of the investigation but said “remedial action” had taken place, according to the Hollywood Reporter.

“Last summer, Mr. Fisher was offered the opportunity to reprise his role as Cyborg in ‘The Flash,'” the statement said. “Given his statement that he will not participate in any film associated with Mr. Hamada, our production is now moving on.”